Welcome to our weekly edition of Penn Quarter Sports Tavern’s 6-Pack of Questions, where we aim to keep it real while answering your most pressing questions regarding the Washington Capitals.
Let’s get started.
@Terpinyc If offered the choice of Top 6 Forward or Top 4 D in an Erat trade, which would you choose?
First of all, no NHL general manager is offering anything close to a top-six forward or top-four defenseman for Marty Erat. My guess is that teams are offering somewhere between a sixth defenseman or bottom-three forward and a fourth-round draft pick. If that’s the case it’s easy to see why Caps general manager George McPhee is holding onto Erat, who, by the way, is getting top six minutes with Mikhail Grabovski sidelined with a left foot/ankle injury. The way I see it, Erat will remain with the club until up until the trade deadline and McPhee will take the best deal on the table for him then.
@caddlecreek What do other teams scouts say about what to expect from Kuzzy upon arrival in the NHL and comparables?
The pro scouts I’ve talked to at Caps games haven’t seen much of Evgeny Kuznetsov simply because they don’t make trips to Russia to see the KHL. Kuznetsov has been injured three times this season and voiced his frustration – and desire to come to Washington – in a recent interview with R-Sport. In a translation of that interview, Kuznetsov says, “It’s been decided for a long time now, there should be no questions. I won’t even stay for $10 or $15 million. The people [in Washington] have been waiting for me for three years. They write to me, fly over here. I’m an honest person and will live up to the word I gave them.” Kuznetsov’s KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, is currently out of the playoff race. If they fail to qualify, their season ends on March 4 and theoretically, Kuzentsov could be in a Capitals uniform for the final month of the Caps’ season. In 27 games this season Kuznetsov has just seven goals and 10 assists and is a minus-9. In his interview with R-Sport, Kuznetsov says his season has been so bad, “even dogs turn away from me on the streets.” As for comparables, it’s probably not fair to say, especially since we won’t see Kuznetsov in the Olympics.
@mikedavis96 Any word on Green?
After Thursday night’s game, Capitals coach Adam Oates said Green would join the team on their flight to Detroit and that he will be re-evaluated today. By the looks of the hit, Green likely suffered a head or right shoulder injury. If that’s the case the Caps will recall a right-handed defenseman [Steve Oleksy and Tyson Strachan are the most likely candidates] from the Hershey Bears and insert him into the lineup tonight against the Red Wings.
@Moose and Squirrel Thoughts on the Green hit? Looked borderline to me.
I had no problem with the hit at full speed and even less of a problem with it on the replay. Boone Jenner chipped the puck past Green and went after it. Green did a nice job of hustling to the puck and absorbed the first part of contact, but because he was low, Green’s head absorbed the second bump in the collision. Oates and teammate Troy Brouwer had two different opinions on the hit after the game. “He got beat to the inside,” Oates told reporters. “That’s a mistake. Then he tries his heart out to try and save it, he could have hurt his knee and he gets boinked against the boards because he’s on the wrong side of the guy.” Brouwer took issue with the hit and fought Jenner later in the game. “I just didn’t like how he drove him in at the end of his hit, Green got injured as a result of it,” Brouwer told the Washington Post. “It’s a situation where a guy on our team gets hurt and we don’t want those types of hits to stand on our team.”
@scmonty Ovie has stated that he gets paid to score. So if he’s out there with Majo, Backs, Green, Orlov, who exactly plays defense?
Do you really need an answer on that one? After posting three goals and three assists and a plus-4 rating in his previous two games, Ovechkin was held to just two shots and was a dreadful minus-5 against Columbus, dropping him to a season-low minus-17 for the season. “I was, today, worst player out there. Blame on me,” Ovechkin said after the game. “In the [defensive] zone, everybody have to play responsible. I was out there all five goals, and I feel bad for my team because I have to lead by example, but today I was the worst guy.” Marcus Johansson was a minus-3 and Nicklas Backstrom was a minus-2, so Ovechkin was not alone in his misery. The other side of that coin is the pairing of Mike Green and Dmitry Orlov. Both like to gamble offensively, which means someone always seems to be racing back as the lone defenseman. It’s not a good recipe for a team that wants to play better hockey in its own end.
@GregJoly Seriously. Why is Brooks Laich getting Top 6 minutes?
The theory is that the more Laich plays the better he’ll get. However, the fact that he was questionable for the game in Buffalo after playing in back-to-back games in Jersey and Montreal is not an encouraging sign. Through 40 games this season Laich has just five goals and four assists and is a minus-6. Even the Capitals’ penalty kill numbers have gone down since Laich’s return. The guess is that when Mikhail Grabovski is healthy enough to play, Laich will get dropped to a third line and Marty Erat will remain in the top six. As for a long-term prognosis for Laich, the Capitals have one more buyout at their disposal and will need to address his future this summer.